Monday, December 31, 2007

Knitting: My Year in Review

Projects completed, based on my Raverly projects page (I may have forgotten a hat or so when putting them in:

  • 2 colorwork hats (We call them pirates for Lo and Fish for Steve)
  • 5 lace pieces (alpine lace for Lo, stripes and torchon lace for SIL; melon for Laura, large rectangle for me, test knit for Mama Llama)—4 of them from Victorian Lace Today.
  • Husband Sweater
  • 6 pairs of socks, complete (red socks for me, STR socks for me, jitterbug for Lo, 2 pair for T, sockapalooza pal pair)
  • 3 pairs started (waving lace, claudia’s handpainted, snicket)
  • 1 secret unmentionable test-knit sock
  • Finished perfect sweater #2
  • Fetching, 1 pair for Aunt K
  • Brother sweater 60% done
  • Started Ramona from Sensual Knits

Things I’ve learned, or improved:

  • Colorwork
  • Provisional cast on
  • Magic loop (my favorite new technique)
  • Sock knitting (this is improved, rather than new)
  • Seamless hybrid/EPS
  • Russian and spit-splice joins (these are running neck-and-neck for second favorite—fewer ends to weave in!)

Projects for 2008:

Short term:

  • Finish brother sweater (Jan)
  • Lengthen husband sweater (Jan)
  • Lengthen perfect sweater #1 (Jan)
  • Ramona (Jan)

Longer term:

  • Husband sweater #2 (Feb/Mar)
  • Tangled yoke cardigan
  • Baby nephew blanket w/cables (Feb/Mar—he’s due in April, and while we’re worried he’ll come early, like his big brother, I don’t want him to not have a blanket. I’m aiming for done in mid-March, which will put him at 35 or 36 weeks)
  • Orange socks for T (done soon, but maybe given to him when his baby brother gets his blanket)
  • Honeybee stole or another large lace project, w/camel yarn

New skills I’d like to learn:

  • Cable w/o a needle

All-in-all, it’s been a great knitting year. This is the first year I’d call myself a Knitter, rather than someone who knits. I’m getting braver about trying things, and much braver about ripping them back out. I knit the collar on the husband sweater 3 times before I was happy with it, and had no trouble picking the stitches back up and fixing mistakes I’ve made. I’ve accumulated a lot more stash—I’ve probably doubled the amount of yarn I have—but most of the new yarn has a project associated with it; I have enough yarn for 3 sweaters, but plans for all of it. Some of the lace yarn isn’t really earmarked, but I’ve learned to buy enough for a good-sized shawl. I’ve tried a lot of new yarns, too, and discovered how nice it is to have a portable project for in my purse.

I’m not planning on buying any more yarn for a while—I find that when I buy more yarn
I tend to ignore the stuff I’ve already stashed in favor of the new. And I’m excited about the projects I have for the yarn I’ve already bought, so I’m aiming for finishing some of them before I make any more trips to Webs (which I must admit to having done on Friday, which is where the yarn for Ramona, Husband sweater #2, the nephew blanket, and several pairs of socks for T came from . . . ). I’m not ruling out new yarn, just trying to enjoy what I have.

I also want to be more realistic about deadline knitting; I should have started the sweater for my brother back in October when I bought the yarn. But I put it off until December and didn’t have time to finish it when I realized that I’d made a mistake.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In which the knitting gods kick my ass

Only a few days ago, I was feeling quite optimistic about the state of my Christmas knitting.

The SIL shawl was done, the ends were woven in, and--with amazing ease, courtesy of my new blocking wires--it was pinned out to dry:

One major present: done and checked off the list. The only thing left was the wrapping.

The socks-that-come-up-to-his-knees socks for the nephew were well underway; the first one is completely done and clocks in at 9.25 inches, total. And we've got a car ride to NJ--a good four hours of knitting time--for finishing. His knees are about 10" about the ground, so they should be plenty long. I'm making the toes blue (he picked the yarn) so that when his feet grow, which they inevitably will, I can cut them out and make the feet a little longer without any hassle.

Second Christmas knitting project: well underway.

The green blob that was to be the Brother sweater was actually starting to look like a sweater. Both sleeves were attached, and I had knit about 5 inches of the decreases along the shoulders when I realized

(cue scary Jaws music indicating that makes you want to yell: don't go in the water!)

Something was wrong.

(music swells ominously)

I recounted the number of stitches on each sleeve. An EPS sweater is decreased 8 stitches every third round--two on each sleeve, and four on the body. I'd be blithely knitting along, counting the stitches on one of the sleeves, to make sure I was staying on track, but never bothering to check the other sleeve.

(music tempo increases)

I had 54 on one side.

And 64 on the other.

A two-inch difference.

(music stops, screaming begins)

I cannot, it seems, count to 82 with any reliability, even though I checked my counts on both sleeves repeatedly.

Christmas knitting project the third, and my brother's major present: disaster. There's no possible way I can rip back the five inches of the chest, remove the problem sleeve, rip it back six inches, finish the increases, reattach it, redo the chest decreases, finish the chest decreases, and knit the shoulder saddles in the 46 or so hours left until my brother opens his present.

Which, at this point, will be an empty box with a funny note in it. And a story that he'll be able to hold over my head for years to come, which may be more precious than a hand-knit sweater.

The knitting gods are definitely kicking my ass this year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Knitting Countdown

The SIL shawl: Almost done. 95% done. Less than half a border repeat left. So why is it languishing in the basket?

The nephew socks: Not even started. These weren't really planned as Christmas knitting, but it looks like it will be Christmas before he gets them. The yarn is darker red than the photo suggests.
I need to learn how to knit socks toe-up so I can make them as long as possible, which is why they're not started yet.

The Brother Sweater: the body (all 238 stitches of it) is up to the underarms--18 inches. He's tall, and G tells me the husband sweater would be even better with a couple of extra inches of length. I started the hem of the first sleeve last night.
Right now it looks like a big green blob.

The kicker? As I was taking the points off, and putting the end caps on, I pulled one of my size 6 tips out of the collar. Knitpicks is sending me a new set--they do have excellent customer service--but in the meantime? I'm going to try some fishing glue, and see if I can manage to keep going.

There's nothing like a little pressure to make the Christmas Knitting more enjoyable!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

He likes them!

He really, really likes them!

No picture, alas. But I finished the nephew socks and mailed them off on Saturday--the arrived in New Jersey yesterday.

My parents picked T up from daycare, and told him there was a package for him at home. To which he replied: "my socks!"

My spies tell me that he tore open the package, put them on, and slid merrily around the kitchen in them. And wore them to sleep in.

He's requested another pair, also in red, but "that come up to my knees." Knee socks for three-year-olds. A three-year-old who climbs into my lap and says "My Duzan" and snuggles. So knee socks it is.

I went out and bought the yarn this morning. Now I need to learn how to knit toe-up socks, so I can make them as long as possible. Maybe I'll start with a silly color for the toes, so they're really, really long.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

December Goals

It's been a busy month--too much time spent grading and not enough knitting or blogging. My last day of classes is this Tuesday; I've had several rounds of papers to grade this month. All of my classes are writing classes and on the last day I ask my students to give me a portfolio with all their work, along with a (new) reflective essay--which is nice, because it means most of the grading is done before the end of the semester, but it also means a lot of grading around Thanksgiving.

Teaching would be so much more fun if it weren't for all the grading. :)

I've also got a cold that won't go away--I lost my voice for a few days (much to the amusement of my nephew over Thanksgiving!) and now just have a persistent cough.

I have been doing some knitting, though--no sweater for November, but the pressure to finish my brother's Christmas present in time for Christmas will just add to the fun.

The goals round up:

November goals:
  1. Finish the Stripes and Torchon scarf--or at least, finish up all the yarn I have and, if I run out, work on finding more. almost there--stay on target! I've got about a repeat of the border left; Somehow (even though I've followed the pattern!) the border has wound up not working out exactly, and--since there are 34 rows--it's a little harder to fudge and make it wind up looking even than I'd have imagined. But I should be done with it today or tomorrow, and then I'll cast on for
  2. Start and finish the Brother sweater. Not even close. So not even close I haven't even finished the maths for it, although I swatched. Two months ago, so maybe I should swatch again?
  3. Knit socks for T, who saw me knitting them and said he'd like a pair. Of course, he's three, so he may not remember, but I do. And he's got little feet, so they shouldn't take too long. Done, mailed, but not photographed. I was working on another pair of socks over Thanksgiving, and he asked me again about his socks; I showed him the yarn I had with me and he decided he liked the leftovers from my red Aracaunia Ranco socks and wanted red socks. He kept bringing me the yarn and asking about them--a totally adorable, if somewhat unrealistic, expectation of how long it would take to knit a pair of socks. The enthusiasm was nice, though! I didn't have enough yarn, even though I made the cuffs fairly short--he got red socks with blue toes.
  4. Start a chevron scarf and see if the colors I have will work. I'm saving this as a treat, since I can't wait to use the yarn. Done, here, but not successfully. I"m rethinking the colors, and what to do with my lovely Posh yarn.
  5. Learn a new technique. I'm not sure what--maybe cabling without a cable needle, since I'd also like to No new techniques, but I'm getting better with the magic loop.
  6. Knit at least one pair of Fetching mitts. One down, one to go--does the thumb gusset count as a new technique?
Stash acquisitions: Blocking wires from, which I would link to, but they don't seem to have them in stock right now. But with a 50% off coupon, they wound up being around $20 including shipping. I haven't used them yet--the Stripes and Torchon scarf will be my first project using them. I also bought some Claudia's handpainted in Blue Terra Cotta in a Ravelry Swap, along with the Sundara sock yarn.

Actual November knitting:
  1. Most of the Stripes and Torchon scarf
  2. Socks for the nephew
  3. Red socks for me
  4. Cast on for Waving lace socks from IK's Favorite Socks; they're too big, though, and I need to start over with a smaller needle size
  5. Cast on for a pair of basic socks with the Claudia's handpainted
December Goals:
  1. Finish Stripes and Torchon
  2. Start and finish the Brother sweater--third time's a charm? And, damn it, if I don't, I have to come up with another present idea.
  3. Finish the second Fetching mitt--they're a present for my aunt for Christmas
I'm limiting myself to those three. I'm sure that at least the basic socks will get a fair amount of knitting, as well--the more I knit, the more I like to have a mindless portable project that travels well.

Since the semester is almost over, and the bulk of my grading is already done, I think I can manage those three. If I get them done early, I may aim for a hat or two, and rethink the scarf for myself, as my new winter coat is a basic black wool coat that comes down to my knees, so a new colorful scarf to go with it would be great